Lymphoma in the setting of HIV disease

New PRN Notebook Online – September 2002, Vol. VII, Num. 3
David T. Scadden, MD

Lymphomas have long been some of the most devastating and complex opportunistic diseases of HIV infection. Their epidemiologies, both before and after the widespread use of HAART, have not been fully elucidated, and their various treatments, both in the setting of underlying immune suppression and used concurrently with antiretroviral therapy, have not been officially standardized.

As for their etiologies and pathogeneses, there is still much to understand, including the role of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the transformation of B-cells into lymphomas in the setting of HIV disease. But this much is clear: lymphomas remain the most lethal complications of HIV disease (Chaisson, 1998).

Yet it is also true that the incidence of HIV-related lymphoma has decreased in recent years. What’s more, the immune recovery associated with antiretroviral treatment has enabled many more patients to better tolerate chemotherapy and to live longer, healthier, and cancer-free lives after receiving what is potentially a grim diagnosis.

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